CINCINNATI -- One month has passed, and Jose Reyes has not yet reclaimed his past levels of superstardom. But he's getting there.

"He's really starting to take off now," manager Jerry Manuel said, after Reyes collected two hits Tuesday for the second successive game. "I think he's found his groove, found his rhythm. I think he's really starting to relish that third spot."

After struggling through an 0-for-11 stretch earlier this week, Reyes now has four hits -- including two doubles -- in his past seven at-bats.

Most impressive to Manuel, however, were the strong throws he made in the ninth inning Tuesday, including one to nab Orlando Cabrera at first on a slow roller.

"He's kind of out of Spring Training mode now," Manuel said. "It looks like he's into that playing mode."

Pelfrey reiterates plans to start Friday

CINCINNATI -- Mike Pelfrey isn't worried. And neither are the Mets.

Despite undergoing a precautionary MRI on his cranky right shoulder Monday, and despite skipping his scheduled bullpen session the following day, Pelfrey reiterated Wednesday that he will have no problem making his next start.

"I'll be able to make it," Pelfrey said after a light throwing session. "I'll make it."

Scheduled to throw between 15-20 low-intensity pitches in a "touch and feel session" before Wednesday's game, Pelfrey instead fired 45 pitches in what amounted to more than half of a regular bullpen session.

"I pushed it," he said of his right shoulder. "It felt fine."

Pelfrey will start Friday's game against the Giants at Citi Field, coming off his worst outing of the season on Saturday in an 11-5 loss to the Phillies.

Earlier this week, Pelfrey became a subject of concern when the Mets announced that he flew to New York for an MRI, which revealed "general soreness" in his right shoulder. Both he and manager Jerry Manuel insisted that there was no real issue, but pitching coach Dan Warthen nonetheless held Pelfrey out of Tuesday's bullpen session for precautionary reasons.

In place of the bullpen, Pelfrey threw his less intensive session on Wednesday.

Despite allowing six runs in four innings on Saturday against the Phillies, Pelfrey is enjoying his best start to a season. In five starts and one relief appearance, he is 4-1 with a save and a 2.40 ERA.

Mets plan to be flexible with Takahashi

CINCINNATI -- Hisanori Takahashi can do anything.

That was the message from Mets manager Jerry Manuel, who praised Takahashi after the Japanese reliever fired three perfect innings in relief of Jonathon Niese on Wednesday. Despite Takahashi's success in a long-relief role, Manuel said he would not hesitate to use him in a one-inning stint, or even as a spot starter.

"When you see that type of success, it doesn't mean that that has to be the only role for him," Manuel said. "He doesn't seem to be bothered by the situation. He becomes somewhat versatile for us, and that's a good thing to have."

Barajas pouring on the power

CINCINNATI -- Rod Barajas has 18 hits and a .231 batting average this season, which would be disappointing if seven of those hits were not home runs.

Of the 19 big league players with at least seven homers this season, only Andruw Jones (42 percent) has sent a higher percentage of his hits flying out of the ballpark. The other 17 players -- most of them considered power hitters -- average home runs on merely 28 percent of their hits.

Barajas is at 39 percent.

In terms of isolated power, a statistic calculated by subtracting a player's batting average from his slugging percentage, Barajas ranks 13th in the Majors -- just behind Mark Reynolds and Chase Utley, and just ahead of Evan Longoria, Albert Pujols and Justin Morneau.

He has but one explanation.

"I do have a little loop in my swing, a little uppercut," Barajas said. "I do hit more fly balls than ground balls. That's been my swing my whole life. I've always been a fly-ball hitter."

Mets rest three regulars for rubber game

CINCINNATI -- The Mets' lineup took on a different tone for Wednesday's series finale at Great American Ball Park, with Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur and Rod Barajas all on the bench.

Manager Jerry Manuel's thinking was two-fold: The switches allowed him not only to rest veterans Castillo and Barajas, but also allowed him to give some much-needed playing time to outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. and backup catcher Henry Blanco.

"For Castillo, I like to give him that extra day off after a night game," Manuel said, noting that the Mets have a full off-day Thursday. "For Francoeur, it's just trying to give him a few days. And it also gives us an opportunity to give Matthews a few at-bats."

Despite rumors to the contrary, however, Manuel has no plans to make Blanco the personal catcher of Mike Pelfrey. Though those two have had plenty of success together this season -- Blanco has caught Pelfrey's most recent four starts -- Manuel believes it is imperative also to pair Pelfrey with Barajas.

"I'd like to see that combination," Manuel said.